After a clash on the merits, the legislature\’s budget-writing committee Monday approved hiking the state\’s minimum wage to $10.10 by 2017.
The vote was 24 to 17 along party lines with state Sen. Joan Hartley abstaining. Hartley, a conservative Democrat from Waterbury, has broken with her party and voted with the Republicans in recent years on controversial issues. Last year, Hartley voted against hiking the wage to the current level of $8.70 per hour.
Barring any last-minute snags, both the state Senate and the House of Representatives are expected to vote on the minimum wage hike Wednesday.
In a strong defense of the increase, Rep. Toni Walker, the committee’s co-chairwoman, said those currently earning $8.70 per hour and working 40 hours per week collect less than $350 weekly. The federal poverty level, she noted, for a single mother with two children is $18,096 per year. She said that lawmakers have an obligation of helping workers and “making sure they earn a fair share for what they do’’ in their jobs.
“Who do we represent?’’ Walker asked her fellow committee members. “Who are we here to fight for? We are here for all people of Connecticut, not just a select few.’’
But Republicans rejected the hike as bad for small businesses and bad for job growth.
Sen. Rob Kane, the ranking Senate Republican on the committee, said that hiking the wage would boomerrang and hurt small businesses like the retail store that he owns that sells cellular phones in Waterbury.
“The policy we are setting here today … is more and more government intervention in the lives of people we represent,’’ Kane said. “I’m a small business owner, and next month, God willing, I will be in business 20 years.’’ Continue reading